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Written Answers

Volume 360: debated on Thursday 9 May 1940

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Written Answers

Centennial Postage Stamps (New York Fair)

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether any special steps are being taken to arrange for the sale of the new issues of stamps at the British Pavilion, New York Fair?

Yes, Sir. In collaboration with the General Post Office my Department has made arrangements whereby 100,000 stamped envelopes addressed to the British Pavilion at the New York World's Fair will be on sale to the public in the International Centennial Stamp Exhibition which has been organised by the Fair authorities. Of these envelopes 98,000 bear the 2½d. centennial stamp, while the remaining 2,000 bear the full centennial issue of six stamps. The envelopes were so posted as to obtain the cancellation date of the first day of issue, which was 6th May, 1940.

British Army

Personnel (Driving Licences)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the position of holders of licences to drive public service or heavy goods vehicles who allow their licences to lapse by reason of military service during the war; and whether he will obtain an assurance for them regarding the eventual renewal of such licences?

I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport that the Chairman of Traffic Commissioners have given an assurance that they will be prepared to renew, without further test, licences to drive public service vehicles or heavy goods vehicles held by personnel who allow them to lapse by reason of military service during the war, provided that they retain the necessary qualifications with regard to medical fitness and character


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the offer from the National Institute of Chiropodists to place the skill and experience of their members at the service of the Army; and whether he will favourably consider their offer so as to utilise their services to the advantage of the men serving in the Army?

The offer from the National Institute of Chiropody has been considered. The institute was informed that chiropodists sufficient for the needs of the Army were trained at military hospitals, and, should further assistance be required, the advice of the British Medical Association would be taken.

Norway (Cinematograph Newsreels)

asked the Secretary of State for War why, in view of the considerable amount of news regarding the Norwegian events that have appeared in the Press, his Department has asked the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association to omit from their newsreels all mention of Norway?

The War Office has made no such request to the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association.

Billeting Accommodation (Docks)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will have inquiries made into the conditions in which men are living at certain docks; and whether he will take steps to provide these troops with better and less crowded accommodation?

I am aware that, owing to the difficulty of obtaining accommodation in the area referred to, the billet in question is less satisfactory than others elsewhere, but steps are being taken to effect improvement and to make the troops as comfortable as possible.

Dependant's Allowances

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the son of Mrs. Elizabeth Fisher, widow, 13, Mill Street, Greenock, joined the Royal Garrison Artillery, Territorial Army, early in 1938; on 18th November, 1938, joined the Regular Army and is now serving in France; that she is unfit to work and her son makes an allotment of 7s. per week; that she has applied on several occasions for an allowance but has on each occasion been refused on the ground that her son is a Regular soldier; and whether he will take the necessary steps to secure to her an allowance of 17s. per week?

I am making inquiries into this case and will communicate with the hon. and learned Member as soon as possible.

Civil Defence

Regional Commissioners

asked the Home Secretary whether he will arrange that Regional Commissioners consult with Members of Parliament representing constituencies in their regions with a view to making use of their services in all matters concerned with civil defence in case of an emergency?

Regional Commissioners are glad to have the co-operation of hon. Members in dealing with administrative and other problems affecting constituencies in their region, but I doubt whether in times of acute emergency there would be much scope for Members of Parliament, in their capacity as such, to assist the Commissioner in the discharge of his functions, which would in the conditions envisaged be primarily executive.

Lighting Restrictions

asked the Home Secretary whether he will give the police discretion to authorise the use of lights to facilitate rescue operations in connection with fires caused by enemy action?

The Lighting (Restrictions) Order already makes provision for the use of lights required for urgent rescue work.

Bank Of England (Police Protection)

asked the Home Secretary whether the expenditure of the police in respect of protection of the Bank of England as at present evacuated will rank for Exchequer grant, or whether the whole cost is borne on the local rates or by the Bank of England; and whether this police protection is subject to the survey and report of His Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary in respect of his certificate of efficiency?

The police authority would be entitled to include any such expenditure in their claim to the Exchequer Grant. As regards the second part of the Question, all forms of police duty are subject to inspection by His Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary.

Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that, on 20th February last, Mr. E. H. Newstead, 19, Ashcombe Street, S.W.6, a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service, was ordered to Heckfield Place, S.W.6, for exercise when slum property was burnt down; that he got drenched and was unable to change on return as no alternative uniform has yet been provided; that he was sent out three times later in the day, fell sick and has now died of pneumonia; that the Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme does not provide for such cases; and whether some amendment can be made to remove such anomalies?

I am informed that no record can be traced of a claim for compensation under the Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme having been made by the deceased fireman, or by a dependant in respect of his death. If such a claim is received, I will see that it is given careful consideration.

Air-Raid Precautions Services (Badges)

asked the Home Secretary whether persons who have qualified as wardens, anti-gas and first-aid courses, and are acting as wardens in public buildings where accommodation is available for persons other than the occupants, are entitled to wear the air-raid-precautions badge?

Badges are awarded by local authorities in recognition of definite obligations undertaken by members of air-raid-precautions services. The question whether badges should be issued to persons carrying out the duties indicated by the hon. Member would be determined by the local authority concerned, in the light of their full knowledge of the particular circumstances.


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that certain householders in reception areas have had evacuated children billeted on them continuously since the outbreak of war, he will take steps to authorise local authorities in such areas to establish and maintain camps for such children during the summer months?

There is a number of camps already provided by the National Camps Corporation which will be occupied during the summer months, but I cannot hold out the expectation that more could be provided by local authorities or otherwise before that time. The number of children who could be accommodated in this way is not large. I am, however, very much alive to the desirability of securing a period of relief for householders who have been taking care of children over a long period, and I hope shortly to be able to make further suggestions to local authorities for securing this result.

Metropolitan Police Fund

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that many local authorities would like to see the estimates for the Metropolitan Police Fund in their provisional form before publication, so that they would have an opportunity to ask questions and make representations about them; and whether he will make arrangements to this effect?

I am afraid that this course is not practicable for the reasons which I explained in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member's Question on 11th April.

Probation Order (Breach)

asked the Home Secretary whether he can now make any statement respecting the case of Mrs. Theresa George and the remission of the sentence of three months' imprisonment for a breach of probation?

I have had inquiry made, and I have been unable to find any sufficient ground to justify me in recommending any interference with the sentence imposed by the court. I understand that the justices, who attach much value to the probation system felt it was essential in this case that compliance with the terms of the probation order should be enforced.

Factory Accidents

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the remarks of one of His Majesty's Judges at Leeds Assizes on 2nd May, 1940, on the careless and inefficient manner in which one of His Majesty's inspector's of factories inquired into an accident the day after it took place in which a young man lost a hand and forearm at the Yorkshire Copper Works, and was awarded £2,000 damages; and what disciplinary action he proposes to take?

The question at issue appears to be whether it would be practicable to guard a particular type of machine more fully without interfering unduly with the working of the machine. I am causing further inquiry to be made into this matter, but on the information before me I have no ground whatever for concluding that the inspector, who formed an opinion based on his expert knowledge and experience, was inefficient or careless.

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to a case at Leeds Assizes on 30th April, 3940, in which a man was awarded £1,450 damages against the Yorkshire Copper Works for the loss of an eye through a particle of copper entering it from an insufficiently guarded circular saw which His Majesty's Judge described as unsafe and defective although His Majesty's inspector of factories had frequently visited the place; and will he see that there are more numerous inspectors and more efficient inspections of these works to safeguard the employés against frequent accidents of this kind?

I understand that this case is likely to be the subject of an appeal to a higher court, and in the circumstances I think I should not comment upon it at the present stage.

Ministry Of Information (Mr Herbert Newte)

asked the Minister of Information what position Mr. Herbert Newte holds in the service of his Department; what are his duties and what salary he receives; and was it with his authority that he addressed a meeting at Brighton on 18th April?

Mr. Horace Newte does not hold any position in the Ministry. He is one of many who volunteered to address meetings for which the Ministry might be asked to provide speakers, and he addressed the Preston Women's War Workers Guild on 18th April. He spoke as a private individual giving his own views.

Ministry Of Supply

Cigarette Packets

asked the Minister of Supply whether, in view of the limited supply of paper and paper-making material, he will take steps to ensure the sale of all cigarettes for home consumption loose, and so save the large quantity of cardboard, paper and metal foil used in the making of packets?

:I will see that this suggestion is considered along with others.

New Factory (Materials)

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that the Government are to build a large factory in Yorkshire; and whether, as there are in West Yorkshire some firm's who make better bricks than are made in other parts of the country and to avoid long-distance transport by road or rail and to provide employment locally, he will see that all the requirements in bricks and stone for this factory are obtained in the county of York?

The factory to which the hon. Member refers is being constructed for this Ministry by the Office of Works, and that Department is responsible for matters such as that referred to by the hon. Member. The Office of Works ask me to say that the matter is primarily one for the contractor to be appointed, but he will be informed that, subject to such factors as suitability and price, he should utilise local products to the fullest possible extent.

India (War Comforts, Customs Duties)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether the Government of India will make, or have made, any concessions in Customs Duty on parcels sent to British troops serving in India?

An Army Order has recently been published by the Government of India granting exemption from Customs Duties on articles sent by parcel post to soldiers and airmen serving in India provided that such articles are in the nature of war comforts. The only exceptions to this exemption are tobacco, alcoholic liquor and articles of high intrinsic value such as jewellery.

Rangoon (Rioting)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma whether, in view of the German wireless statements of rioting in Rangoon, with loss of life, he will make a statement on the position in that city?

Hindu-Muslim communal trouble broke out among the Indian community in Rangoon on 20th April, when a fracas occurred, with Hindus as aggressors, outside a mosque in the centre of the city. The following day was quiet, but on the evening of the 21st another clash occurred between the communities. These riots were quickly stopped by the police, and since then there have been no further organised outbreaks. There have, however, been some sporadic cases of attack by members of either community on the other, on 28th April and on3rd and 4th May. The total number of casualties up to 4th May was 27 killed or died of injuries, and 167 injured. The riots have been of a purely communal character, and the police have the situation well in hand. The Burmese population has not been affected.

Royal Navy

Service Canteens

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will make provision for all merchant seamen, fishermen, and others serving in commissioned ships of the Royal Navy to be issued with armlets instead of the badges they wear at present in order that they may be easily recognised and enabled to use Naval Service canteens without embarrassment?

So far as I am aware, none of the men serving in commissioned ships of the Royal Navy find difficulty in using Naval Service canteens. The men are either provided with uniform or with armlets.

Lodging Allowance (Income Tax)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it is with his knowledge and approval that Income Tax is deducted prior to payment of lodging allowance to officers and ratings of the Royal Navy, many of whom have to maintain homes and families at a considerable distance from their base?

My hon. Friend will appreciate that this question depends on the interpretation of Income Tax Statutory Schedules and is, therefore, not entirely within Admiralty discretion, but under existing practice officers and men of the Royal Navy are liable to Income Tax on lodging allowance only if that emolument is drawn in respect of an appointment, which is for a fixed, or practically fixed, term.

Military Service

Conscientious Objectors

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has yet appointed a chairman of the Appellate Tribunal for conscientious objectors in succession to the late Mr. H. A. L. Fisher?

The death of Mr. Fisher has necessitated reconstitution of the Appellate Tribunal. On the nomination of the Lord Chancellor, my right hon. Friend has appointed Lord Fleming, a Judge of the Scottish Court of Session, to be Chairman. He has appointed as members, Sir Cyril Norwood, President of St. John's College, Oxford, and Sir Arthur Pugh, who was a member of the Tribunal as originally constituted.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of conscientious objectors who appeared at the East Anglian Tribunal and who have expressed their intention of entering the teaching profession?

Up to the end of April, 1940, 108 persons who appeared before the East Anglian Tribunal at Cambridge as conscientious objectors expressed their intention of entering the teaching profession.

Carpenters And Woodworkers

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the unemployment prevailing among carpenters and woodworkers, he will consider increasing the age at which such persons are placed in a reserved occupation?

The Schedule of Reserved Occupations is constantly under review, and the reservation of carpenters and woodworkers is now receiving attention.

Medical Boards

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that few members of recruiting boards are appointed in the district in which they practise, but to boards elsewhere, with the result that time and petrol are wasted in travel; and what action is contemplated to prevent this waste?

I am not aware that the position is as stated by the hon. Member. Except in London, where special considerations apply, the panels from which members of medical boards are drawn are composed of practitioners normally residing in the districts served by the boards.

Unemployment (Wales)

asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed men, upwards of 45 years of age, in South Wales and Monmouthshire mines who were unemployed during the month of April; and the number of them admitted to training centres during the same month?

As regards the first part of the Question, the latest figures available relate to the number of wholly unemployed men in coal-mining occupations registered as unemployed in the Wales Division as a whole on 11th March, 1940. Out of a total of 10,584 such men aged 18 and over, approximately 7,000 were aged 45 and over. The figures asked for in the second part of the Question are not available and could not be obtained without an undue expenditure of time.

Cost-Of-Living Index

asked the Minister of Labour in what way the methods used before the war for compiling the monthly cost-of-living index figure have been varied under war conditions?

Central Register

asked the Minister of Labour (1) what is the proportion of men to women on the Central Register; and of the 4,000 vacancies filled from the Central Register how many have been filled by men and how many by women;(2) how many names have been submitted from the Central Register for vacancies; and how many of the names submitted were men and how many were women?

At the end of April the names of 14,578 persons of both sexes had been submitted for vacancies, and of these 4,800 men and 371 women had been notified to the register as placed, whilst some 4,000 others of both sexes were still under consideration. As the filing system in the Central Register is based on the qualifications of the individual volunteer without distinction of sex, I regret that I cannot without undue expenditure give the other information for which my hon. Friend asks.


Children (Railway Half Fares)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that the maximum salary allowed to children over 16 years of age to qualify for half fare is 18s. per week; that this figure has re- mained unchanged for many years, despite many increases in fares; and whether he will consider raising it now to 25s., in view of the increase in the cost of living and the high percentage of weekly earnings children pay out in fares, amounting to nearly 50 per cent. in some cases?

I am consulting the Railway Executive Committee on this matter and will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as I have considered their reply.

Railway Fares (Authorised Increase)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that, before the original increase of 5 per cent., the fare from Lough borough Junction to the City was 5d., that ½d. was then added instead of ¼d., and that a further 1d. has been added, making an increase of 30 per cent. instead of 15 per cent.; and whether it is to be understood that the 10 per cent. increase recently sanctioned is not to be regarded as a precise figure but may be exceeded?

The first of these increases was made under the authority of an Order of the Railway Rates Tribunal in 1939 and the second under the authority of my Order dated 17th April, 1940. In reply to the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) yesterday, I gave a full explanation of the operation of the fractions rules.

Post Office

Postage Rates (Increase)

asked the Postmaster-General whether, with a view to ascertaining the effect of the increased rates of postage at the earliest possible date, he will be in a position to give a table showing the number of sealed and unsealed letters, circulars, postcards, and other postal packets passing through his Department in the three months ending December, 1940, together with similar particulars for the corresponding months of 1939; or can he indicate in any other way, during 1940, the extent to which postal business has been affected by the increased rates of postage?

Approximate figures for the purpose of such a comparison as the hon. Member has in mind will be available in the course of the current year.

New Stamps

asked the Postmaster-General the estimated extra quantity and cost of paper, materials, and printing which may be incurred by doubling the size of the centenary issue of adhesive stamps?

The stamps of the centenary issue are not double the normal size, but only half as big again. The extra paper required amounts to about 18 tons; the extra quantities of other materials needed are small. As regards cost, it is contrary to Government policy to disclose contract prices, but the whole of the extra expenditure involved by the issue, including labour and design, will amount to about £5,500, and this is expected to be more than covered by extra receipts likely to accrue from sales to collectors.


Milk (Prices)

asked the Minister of Agriculture what the liquid consumption of milk, average retain price and average regional wholesale price of liquid milk were for the year 1938–39?

The quantity of milk sold under the Milk Marketing Scheme for liquid consumption during the contract year 1938–39 was approximately 764,000,000 gallons. The average regional wholesale price for ordinary milk was 1s. 4¾d. per gallon and for tuberculin tested milk, 1s. 6¼d. per gallon. I have no information as to the actual prices at which milk was sold by retail, but I am sending the hon. Member a statement showing the minimum appropriate retail prices prescribed by the Milk Marketing Board.

Subsidies And Grants

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will give up-to-date figures relating to subsidies under the following heads: complete de-rating of agricultural land, sugar subsidy and remission of excise, subsidy in respect of milk and milk products, land fertility improvement payments, cattle and sheep subsidy, wheat, oats and barley subsidies, bacon subsidies and land drainage grants?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Barnes) on 11th April.

Production Statistics

asked the Minister of Agriculture to what extent at the present time statistics of agricultural production are made available in confidence to the National Farmers' Union; and whether, in particular, the production figures of milk, sugar-beet, pigs and crops, are made known to them in this way?

The publication of statistics of agricultural production is restricted in war-time, but my hon. Friend will appreciate that it may be necessary for the purpose of consultations to disclose in confidence to the National Farmers' Union or other responsible organisations certain statistical information, for example, in regard to crop acreage and livestock numbers. Statistics of the production of crops of the 1939 harvest, including sugar-beet, have been published.

Trade And Commerce


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can make any further statement as to the course of trade discussions between this country and Japan?

I would refer to the reply which my hon. Friend the Minister of Economic Warfare gave to my hon. Friend on 25th April.

Anglo-French Co-Ordination And Co-Operation

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the division of functions between the Anglo-French Coordinating Committee and the Anglo-French Industrial Council, set up with his approval, particularly with regard to the purchase of supplies, the elimination of competition between individual firms, and the stimulation of exports and of Anglo-French trade?

The Anglo-French Co-ordinating Committee is an official Allied body, the functions of which are to co-ordinate the work of the various Anglo-French Executive Committees responsible for supplying the requirements of the Allied Governments in respect of munitions, food, raw materials, shipping, etc., and to deal with any difficult questions of principle or priority which may arise between them. It also has the duty of co-ordinating the work of Allied Purchasing Missions abroad. The Anglo-French Industrial Council, on the other hand, is an unofficial body primarily concerned with developing co-operation between individual British and French industries.


asked the Prime Minister whether consideration has now been given to the Russian reply on the question of Anglo-Russian trade negotiations; and what decision the Government have come to on this matter?

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Government have had under consideration the communication received by them on 29th April from the Soviet Government. His Majesty's Government have now asked the Soviet Goverment to furnish them with certain further information in order that they may be in a position to judge whether the obligations undertaken by the Soviet Government would render it possible for them at present to conclude a Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom on the lines which His Majesty's Government had in mind and which were explained to the House in my answer to the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. David Adams) on 24th April.


asked the Prime Minister what stage has been reached in the informal contacts between London and Rome for the opening of new trade negotiations between this country and Italy; and whether such negotiations are now likely?

Discussions between representatives of the two Governments continue, and His Majesty's Government hope that these may lead to useful results.

London Price Regulation Committee

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that many local authorities feel that the area served by the London Local Price Regulation Committee is too large, and that the consumers are not sufficiently represented thereon; and whether he will take steps to divide the Metropolitan police area among a number of smaller units and appoint a number of representatives from local authorities on such committees to safeguard the interests of the general public?

I am not aware that many local authorities hold the views stated by the hon. Member. Experience has not shown any reason for subdividing the area of the London Price Regulation Committee, and I consider that the representation of consumers on the committee is adequate.

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

asked the Minister of Pensions the average payment to date made under the War Service Grants Advisory Committee Scheme?

The average war service grant from the inception of the committee down to the payment date is 7s. 8d. per week.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, when a person has a right of appeal to the Minister, the facts submitted are considered by the Minister personally or by an independent tribunal or by civil servants in the employ of the Ministry?

The practice in a case of this nature is that all the facts are fully reviewed by an officer of superior rank to the one who gave the original decision. Where a medical issue is involved, a principal medical officer is consulted, and if thought desirable the opinion of an independent medical expert is sought. It would be clearly impossible for the Minister to see every case of complaint or appeal, but wherever the issue is one of importance the case would be put before me.

National Health Insurance

asked the Minister of Health how many approved societies since the start of the war have abandoned the grant of special benefits hitherto accorded to their members; and whether, in each case, he will give details and reasons?

The schemes of additional benefits of a certain number of approved societies were varied as from 1st January, 1940, because on valuation as at 31st December, 1937, it was found that the financial position was not so favourable as at the previous valuation at 31st December, 1932. The detailed information asked for by my hon. Friend is not directly available, and under present conditions I do not feel justified in undertaking the labour and expense of extracting the information.

Local Authorities (Rates)

asked the Minister of Health whether he will publish a list of all local authorities for which rate increases have been made or announced for the current year or rateable period, and the amounts of such increases, respectively?

I regret that I am unable to supply the information desired, pending the receipt of copies of the rate demand notes which are furnished to me by the local authorities. I will, however, if my hon. and learned Friend so desires, send him a summary of the information available to me from Press reports.

Sweden (Wounded Belligerent Soldiers)

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government have accepted the Swedish interpretation of neutrality to the effect that wounded soldiers of a belligerent are entitled to pass through a neutral country to their home country?

Article 14 of the Fifth Hague Convention gives the Swedish Government discretion to decide whether they will or will not allow the passage of wounded soldiers through Sweden. In the view of His Majesty's Government, they are bound by that Article to make a full investigation and to form a conclusion according to the merits of every case. His Majesty's Government have no reason to believe that this has not been done.

Brussels (British Embassy)

asked the Prime Minister what is the staff attached to the British Embassy in Brussels?

Education (Southampton)

asked the President of the Board of Education what is the total number of children on the registers in the elementary and secondary schools of Southampton and how many are at present evacuated; how many elementary and secondary schools have been occupied by the authorities and how many of these have now been released; and when he expects full-time education to be restored for all the children in the county borough?

There are 15,526 children in the elementary schools in Southampton and 180 in the one secondary school which is open. There are 5,600 children evacuated under the Government scheme or privately remaining in reception areas. Nine elementary and four secondary schools, one of them partially, have been occupied by other services: three of these schools have now been released. I am satisfied that the authority are pressing on as rapidly as possible and that it will not be long before full-time education for all elementary school children except infants is attained. The question of further provision for secondary school pupils is under discussion with the authority.

Surtax Yield

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue from Surtax is estimated will be lost as a result of his proposal to limit the rate of dividends of public companies?

The yield of Surtax in the current year will not be affected by the proposal to which my hon. Friend refers. The Surtax on assessments which will include dividends paid this year, does not become payable until 1st January, 1942; and I am not in a position to forecast the yield of that tax in future years.

Petrol Rationing

asked the Secretary for Mines how many evacuated civil servants are allowed special petrol coupons because they live far away from their work in towns where the new offices are situated; and whether he is sure that the extra consumption of petrol is unavoidable?

The reply to the first part of the hon. Member's Question could only be supplied by a detailed examination of all the cases dealt with in the divisional petroleum offices, which I consider would entail an unjustifiable amount of labour and expense. Evacuated civil servants like other members of the community are only able to receive supplementary allowances for the purpose of getting to their place of business when no alternative means of transport exist. I am satisfied that the same degree of scrutiny is applied in the case of their applications as in those of other persons.

Food Supplies

Soya Beans

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been called to the large imports of soy a beans by Germany and to the fact that the United States are now growing these beans extensively owing to their nutrient value and general utility; and whether he will consult the authorities of those parts of the Empire that are climatically suited for their cultivation so as to ensure a regular and sufficient supply of these beans for use in this country?

I have no information to suggest that recent imports of soya beans into Germany have been large. Supplies of other oilseeds produced within the Empire are abundant, and there would, therefore, appear to be no pressing need to encourage the production of soya beans at the present time, and such production would be subject to the shipping conditions applicable to other oilseeds already grown. I understand from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies that experiments in producing soya beans in the Colonial Empire have not so far proved profitable.

Meat Rationing

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that in the area of the Eston Urban District Council, with 29,800 people registered for meat rationing, and where most of the workpeople are engaged in the hard physical work connected with the iron and steel industry, supplies of meat during several weeks recently have been considerably below the rationed quantity; and whether he will take steps to have the supplies increased?

I am not aware of the shortage of meat referred to. Supplies have been available to meet in full all the ration requirements of butchers since the introduction of meat rationing on 11th March. I understand, however, that certain butchers have refused to accept imported mutton and lamb as part of their allocation and, in consequence, they may have been unable to supply the full ration requirements of their customers. As regards the second part of the Question, I am drawing the attention of the butchers in this locality to the position and to the

Area.Name.Salary.Prior Occupation.
South WestMajor Cyril H. Potter, O.B.E.1,000Stockbroker.
South EastA. H. Gold, Esq.1,000Wine Merchant.
MidlandLieut.-Colonel G. Blewitt, D.S.O., M.C. D.L.1,000Farmer.
North WestJ. C. Kidd, Esq., F.A.I.1,000Livestock and General Auctioneer
North EastC. W. H. Glossop, Esq.1,000Director of Public Utility Companies and Farmer.
North ScotlandN. M. Paterson, Esq.1,000Bank Agent and Farmer.
South ScotlandA. Murdoch, Esq.Serves without remuneration.Chartered Accountant and Farmer.
These officers, with one exception, received designate appointments prior to the war and were doing voluntary work for the Food (Defence Plans) Department for some months before the outbreak. The only appointment made since the war was filled by the selection of a candidate from the Central Register of the Ministry of Labour and National Service.

British Dependencies (Retired Officials)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will identify those Colonies which impose an Income Tax upon the pensions of retired officials resident in the United Kingdom, stating the rate of tax imposed; and whether legislation for this purpose received his approval?

It will be necessary to examine the Income Tax laws of all the dependencies concerned to ascertain the precise position of pensions of retired officials, and I will communicate

necessity of ensuring that, within the limits of their buying permits, they draw sufficient meat to fulfil the ration requirements of their customers.

Area Meat And Livestock Officers

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will issue a list showing the names, salaries and prior occupations of all area meat officers in London and the country, respectively, and showing which appointments were made from the Central Register of the Ministry of Labour and which were made after public advertisement?

The following statement gives the information desired with regard to area meat and livestock officers:a detailed statement to my hon. Friend when that has been done. All these laws have received the approval of myself or my predecessors.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is in a position to give any further information as to the progress of legislation in the Nigerian Legislative Council designed to safeguard the position of pensioners?

The legislation to which my hon. Friend refers has been enacted by the Nigerian Legislature, and is now in operation.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any organisation exists in the Colonial Office for the purpose of obtaining suitable employment for retired officials of the Colonial Service, whose pensions do not suffice to maintain them owing to increased taxation both at the Colonial source and in the United Kingdom?

A register has been opened at the Colonial Office for those Colonial pensioners who are willing to undertake further employment during the war. The names of any such officers with suitable professional or technical qualifications have also been sent to the Ministry of Labour and National Service for inclusion in the Central Register. About 60 vacancies in Government Service at home or in the Colonies are known to have been filled by the selection of retired Colonial officials from these Registers.

Colonial Sugar

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, for the information of the House, he will state the disparity in the present value of the special preferences allocated to the different sugar-producing Colonies; and what, if the recommendations of the West India Royal Commission were adopted, would be the allotment of these preferences to the same Colonies?

The existing special preference is at the rate of 3s. per cwt. on quotas fixed for each Colony. Its average value per cwt. of total exports in any year depends, therefore, on the proportion between the quota and the actual export. The figures below show the average values on the basis of exports during the three years ended 31st August, 1939. They would be different if any other period were chosen.

British Guiana11½
East Africa7
Leeward Islands (Antigua and St. Kitts)1
Trinidad and Tobago1
Windward Islands (St. Lucia and St. Vincent)1
Average for whole Colonial Empire1
The recommendations of the Royal Commission were, as the Commissioners themselves pointed out in their report, framed in the light of pre-war conditions, and the Commissioners expressly stated that they left open the question how far they could be applied under war-time conditions. The Commission's recommendation was that the special preference should be granted at the basic rate of 3s. per cwt. on an amount equal to 50 per cent. of each Colony's actual exports. The basic value of this special preference would accordingly have been 1s. 6d. per cwt. of the total export. This basic rate was, however, to be subject to reduction if the price exceeded 7s. per cwt. c.i.f. United Kingdom. Owing to the change in the whole basis of marketing brought about by the war, it is very difficult to say how this would work in current conditions, but if an adjustment is made on the basis of the price now actually being paid for Colonial sugar, including the extra freights which are being paid by the Ministry of Food, the value of the special preference payable to Colonial exporters would, had the Royal Commission's recommendations been literally followed, be reduced to nothing.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the heavy increase in the production costs of Colonial sugar since the outbreak of war, owing to the raising of freight rates for outgoing supplies; and whether he is satisfied that the present sugar price obtainable by producers is sufficient to make possible that improvement in living and housing conditions generally regarded as essential in the West Indian sugar-producing Colonies?

The expectation that increased costs would result from the war was taken into account in the price which was offered to and accepted by the Colonial sugar producers for the purchase by the Ministry of Food of their exportable surplus for the current season. Whether this price will be sufficient for the coming season, having regard among other matters to the producers' obligations towards their labour, will have to be considered when arrangements are made for the purchase of that season's crop.